The opening credits of Sujoy Ghosh's Badla took me back to the days when I was obsessed with Agatha Christie's telly adaptation of Hercule Poirot. While Sujoy might not have Senior Bachchan flaunt a twirled moustache in Badla, there is no denying the homage he's paying to the thriller genre. Badla is a remake of the 2016 Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest and whether you have seen the original or not, the Amitabh Bachchan - Taapsee Pannu starrer is still worth your ticket.
Sujoy, who's already proved his mettle in the genre with Kahaani, doesn't waste anytime in cutting to the chase with Badla. We are introduced to a crime scene that involves Naina (Taapsee), a wife and a mother, who's having an affair with a man whose murder she's accused of. However, the setting isn't as linear as it sounds, there are enough angles, side characters and twists and turns that will keep you engaged over a period of 2 hours.
Amitabh Bachchan plays Badal Gupta the lawyer who's brought in to help Naina get acquittal from the case. The cat and mouse game begins when we witness flashback images and scenes of the moments leading up to the crime scene. Despite being married and having a successful career as a businesswoman there is something that is amiss in Naina's life. Amrita Singh as Rani, the mother of the son who goes missing and is an important clue in this cryptic jigsaw puzzle, is in top form in her short but impactful role. Most of the first half goes in setting a pace that doesn't slack. You get involved in Naina's story and her affair with Arjun. How they cover up a murder of an innocent and the follow up to Rani tracking and trying to find out her missing son leaves you wondering how these loose ends will eventually tie up. Sujoy ensures the technical side of Badla is strong, the background music, the camera work and even the dialogues are all meant to take the tension in the film a few notches up.
Amitabh Bachchan's Badal act is another feather in his eclectic cap. There is something that Sujoy is able to draw in him which works in Badla. His scenes with Taapsee are a major highlight. You don't know whom to trust and whom to not, that's where the film succeeds, on keeping you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think you have solved the mystery, there comes in a new twist.
Taapsee plays Naina with a cool and calm demeanour. This is a character that has many shades and she changes and shifts gears as the story progresses. Badla's length and editing work in its favour, the film doesn't have any songs and doesn't drag on testing your patience.
However, the film isn't without flaws. Badla's second half and as it nears its climax, the end does get a bit predicable. You sort of know what to expect. Also you need to keep a track of the intermittently changing storyline which is narrated from two different perspectives.
If you love a good old school thriller then Badla is your ticket this weekend. Buckle up for a good roller coaster ride!
3.5 out of 5
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